If I had to name one reason why I totally love being on safari in the Kruger Park I would probably say something like it’s because of the idea that each day when you roll out of bed and hit the road, you really have no idea what surprises the Kruger has in store for you. Maybe you will run across a breeding herd of elephants peacefully frolicking in a waterhole or maybe you might forced to reverse down a narrow dirt road by a big elephant bull who could easily flip your vehicule in one swift trunk swipe. Maybe there will be a crash of rhinos blocking the road and you will have to eventually turn around and find another road. Maybe you’ll plan a quick stop at a waterhole just to check it out but you end up sitting for a couple hours just watching (and taking zillions of photos) the diverse bird life and all the other creatures coming down for a visit. The possibilites for special sightings in Kruger are endless but sometimes there are some that are just a little more special for one reason or another. One of those is what I wanted to blog about today.
This particular day on my recent visit to Kruger Park had started out overcast and drizzily. I had already had some great sightings on previous days but with the weather being as it was, I really didn’t have any high expectations and I was in fact glad that the rain had finally brought the high temperatures of the previous days down a bit. However the Kruger had other ideas for this day and soon I found myself at an amazing cheetah sighting; only the second time in my life that I have seen them. That was special, really special but that sighting isn’t what I am going to write about today (I will one day but you’ll have to wait a bit for that one).
It was the sighting just after lunch, during the off-peak safari hours in which it is usually way too hot and most of the animals are hiding somewhere in the shade that was really, really extra special to me. I was driving down a dirt road between Lower Sabie and Skukuza (S128 aka the Old Tshokwane Road for those fanatics that like all the details) when I saw this:
I am addicted to the Kruger National Park. There, I said it, and I am not the least bit ashamed. I just got back 2 days ago from another fantastic self-drive trip to this reserve, my 3rd since moving to South Africa a little over a year ago and my 5th visit overall. This time was a bit different than the others as I went solo. Yes, that is correct, just me, myself and I, alone in the bush and it was an amazing adventure.
The past 6 weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind of travel for me so I thought I would do a quick update to let you know I am still around and looking forward to sharing my recent adventures with you soon.
The beginning of November had me back in Nice, France for a work trip. Incidentally I left for this trip exactly one year and one day from the date we moved to Joburg. It felt a bit strange to be back in Nice (or more precisely Sophia Antipolis where our offices are located) and I really feel Joburg is home to me now. It was a hectic week of conferences but a great experience to meet fellow colleagues from all over the globe. We didn’t have much free time at all and I didn’t even get a chance to see old friends but we did manage a few hours for a nice Sunday afternoon around Antibes, much needed after the long, hellish flight from South Africa.
Pilanesberg National Park is a Big 5 reserve about 2 hours north of Johannesburg. This is a great park to visit if you are in the Joburg area and maybe don’t have enough time to get over to Kruger. In the past year, we have made a couple day trips as well as a weekend camping trip to Pilanesberg. Sightings haven’t been all that great for us (the cats have eluded us completely on all trips) but of course it is always the luck of the draw when it comes to wildlife. We are always happy to just be out on safari and to see whatever we have the chance to spot so our time in the park has always been enjoyed.
In my previous post I wrote about the first part of our trip to Swaziland and our stay at Hlane. Our last 2 nights were spent at a different park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary located a little more than an hour from Hlane. In part 1 I mentioned that the original plan was to spend all 3 nights at Mlilwane however when we called to finalize our booking, we were told that the camp was booked out for the first night for a private function. When we arrived at Mlilwane we discovered that this private function was in fact a celebration of 50 years of conservation in Swaziland with the King of Swaziland in attendance to unveil a commemorative statue. I wonder how many people can say they got bumped because of a King and on their birthday no less, haha.